Car giant Jaguar has launched legal proceedings at the Intellectual Property Office (the body that protects trademarks) against Shoreditch arts collective Jaguar Shoes. That’s right: one is a swish multinational company which sells luxury cars; the other is a trendy gallery and bar that promotes art, music and fashion – but doesn’t sell cars – or shoes for that matter.
Jaguar Shoes opened on Kingsland Road in 2001 and took its name from a shop that was formerly on the site, preserving its original shabby sign. ‘Jaguar Shoes was a shoe wholesaler that had been here since the late 1970s,’ says Nick Letchford, who co-founded the bar and gallery with his sister. ‘We liked the sign and the link to the area’s history before it became covered with bars. We saw no reason to spend extra money replacing a beautiful shop front. It never crossed our minds that this would happen.’
Two years ago the collective sought to protect its name with a trademark, after attempts by others to use it. Jaguar Land Rover submitted an objection to the IPO over the use of the name, claiming that their reputation would be damaged if the collective used it. ‘How can we damage Jaguar’s reputation?’ says Letchford. ‘We are about as far removed from their business as you can get.’ Jaguar told Time Out it could not comment on the case.
Catherine Wolfe, president of the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, explained the issue. ‘Every trademark case must be assessed on its own facts,’ she said. ‘In the end it comes down to the question of whether there is a risk of confusion, or of association, or of drawing a link between the trademarks in the case. An essential test is whether or not the customer, on seeing one thing, thinks of the other.’
The gallery, which has promoted more than 600 artists, musicians and fashion designers, has a loyal following among London’s hipsters: the Klaxons, Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding from The Mighty Boosh and Alexa Chung have all been spotted there. Natalie Portman once danced to Animal Collective in the basement, and Beyoncé used their office to do a webcast. A decision will be made by the IPO in three weeks’ time. Rebecca Taylor
To sign the petition to support Jaguar Shoes see ipetititions.com/petitions/jaguarshoes.